By Rich Walburg
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber announced the 2019 class of Great Living Cincinnatians. This class joins 155 previous awardees chosen for this preeminent honor by the Chamber’s Senior Council. Being welcomed to this prestigious group are Alva Jean Crawford, John J. Frank Jr., Joseph H. Head Jr. and Sister Rose Ann Fleming, SND De N.
“We’re proud to honor Mrs. Crawford, Mr. Frank, Mr. Head and Sister Rose Ann for their unique innovations and dedication to help shape our local landscape into what it is today,” said Phil Castellini, COO of the Cincinnati Reds and board chair (2017-2019) of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
Great Living Cincinnatians are recognized for service to the community; business and civic attainment on a local, state, national or international level; leadership; awareness of the needs of others; and distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization.
The 2019 honorees will be installed as Great Living Cincinnatians at the 2019 Cincinnati Chamber Annual Dinner at the Duke Energy Center Grand Ballroom, at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 28. Table and individual reservations are available via cincinnatichamber.com/annualdinner or phone at 513 579-3111.
Profiles of each honoree follow:
Alva Jean Crawford
Alva Jean Crawford’s entire career has been centered around encouraging young people to pursue an education and become successful. After working as a mathematics teacher for 22 years in Tennessee, Missouri, California and Ohio, she became a school counselor and has helped many students prepare for their adult lives.
Crawford was the first African American ticket agent in the mid-South. She was asked to apply for the position when American Airlines decided it was time for racial integration. She got the job after a test and an interview. “People used to watch me work like I was something strange. It was good to open the opportunities for African Americans at American Airlines, but it was not my career goal, so I left after two years.”
Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Crawford moved to Cincinnati when her husband accepted an offer to become chairman of the orthopedics department at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
She believes people should move to Cincinnati because it is a “good city for entrepreneurs, it has a strong job market due to the Fortune 500 companies that are here, low cost of living, many professional and college sports teams, great museums, great health care, excellent public and private schools and lots of entertainment.”
She is passionate about music and the arts. If she hadn’t pursued a career in education, she says she would have worked a job that promotes the arts and engages young people.
Although art was not part of her career, it has been a part of her retirement. Crawford co-chaired the Cincinnati Opera’s 80th Anniversary Gala, participated in the Cincinnati Ballet’s diversity committee and sits on the board of Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Music Hall Revitalization Company. “My desired contribution is to encourage others, regardless of their personal circumstances, to enjoy the arts and realize that diversity and inclusion are good for us all.”
She also served on the boards of Cincinnati Public Radio, Free Store Foodbank, Girl Scout Council of Greater Cincinnati, the Hearing, Speech and Deaf Centers of Greater Cincinnati, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Cincinnati Reds Community Fun and the Children’s Home of Cincinnati, among others.
She volunteers as a Girl Scouts leader, serves as a mentor at the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative and the Cincinnati Woman’s Club and is a math tutor at the Crossroads Church Community School. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Sorority, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Cincinnati Chapter of The Girl Friends Inc., The Moles and the Cincinnati Woman’s Club.
Crawford is one of three sisters and has been married to Dr. Alvin Crawford for 55 years. They have a daughter, a son and three granddaughters who are 11, 8 and 6 years old.
For fun, Mrs. Crawford enjoys going to opera and jazz concerts, watching plays and Broadway shows, and reading biographies and history books about the 35 countries she has visited with her husband.
For Crawford, to be successful means “doing something you love and are knowledgeable about and that provides enough for you to live a comfortable life.” Her best advice is to “be honest, have integrity, inspire others, acquire good communication skills, be accountable, have a positive attitude and be empathetic.”
Sister Rose Ann Fleming, SND de N (Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur)
The Ohio River has always had a peaceful, prayerful effect on Sister Rose Ann Fleming, S.N.D., de N. For many years, she held onto that feeling to make some important life decisions, including the one to move back to her hometown of Cincinnati more than 35 years ago.
Sister Fleming, who earned her bachelor’s degree at the College of Mount St. Joseph, served as the superintendent of Summit Country Day in Cincinnati and president of Trinity College in Washington, D.C. before heading back to Cincinnati.
She joined the Xavier faculty and began working in the academic advising office, with a focus on student athletes, becoming the primary adviser to Xavier’s men’s basketball program. Since 1986, Xavier has graduated every senior men’s basketball player. Xavier is consistently one of the top 15 schools in the nation when it comes to overall student-athlete graduation success rate.
In 2011, Fleming became a special assistant to Xavier University President Fr. Michael Graham, S.J. Part of her role is to ensure that future student athletes at Xavier have ongoing access to academic support. She s still travels with the men’s basketball team.
With author Laura Pulfer, she wrote a book about her work, titled “Out of Habit, My Life as Xavier University’s Unlikely Point Guard.”
John J. Frank Jr.
“I will never lose my passion for helping others,” said John J. Frank, Jr. of his lifelong commitment to the multiple philanthropic causes he holds dear, including child poverty, diversity and inclusion and mental health.
Frank’s passion for service was sparked by his father, John J. Frank, who continuously motivated him to volunteer for different organizations, as well as his maternal grandmother, Florence Rosenthal, who worked as the director of a home for mentally ill children. After graduating from Harvard in 1954 and serving as a special agent for the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps, Frank returned to his hometown of Cincinnati to join the family business and start a career in the commercial real estate industry a few years later.
His family’s background inspired much of his early volunteer work with the American Jewish Committee’s Cincinnati Chapter, as well as the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, the Jewish Vocational Service, Rockdale Temple, the United Jewish Cemeteries and the Jewish Community Relations Council. His great grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Germany and France in the mid 1800’s to escape anti-Semitism.
Under his leadership, the Cincinnatus Association created the Greater Cincinnati Commitment (GCC), patterned after the Birmingham (Alabama) Pledge to disavow racism in the region. He chaired the 2010 Government Cooperation Task Force, which brought together local government, political and community leaders to report on community’s most relevant issues over the course of five years.
He is also passionate about initiatives that support local youth and mental health efforts. Over the years, he has worked extensively with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association (both locally and nationally), the Boys Hope/Girls Hope of Greater Cincinnati, Winners Walk Tall, the Cincinnatus Leader to Leader Program, the Hamilton County Mental Health Board and the Children’s Psychiatric Center.
Frank has two sons, a stepson, a stepdaughter and 10 grandchildren. He has been married to his wife, Susan, for the past 21 years.
Joseph H. Head, Jr.
Joseph H. Head Jr. has been a tireless contributor to the Cincinnati community.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, he attended and graduated from the Taft School and attended Walnut Hills High School through tenth grade. He attended and graduated from Yale University in 1954, then served in the U.S. Army’s artillery division for two years while stationed in Germany.
Head attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1959. He returned to Cincinnati and joined the Graydon, Head and Ritchey law firm, where he worked as an associate for over 25 years before he became a partner and then managing partner. He served as trustee and president of the Children’s Home of Greater Cincinnati, was on the board of directors of Fifth Third Bank and directed the LB Harrison Association.
He was on the board of directors of The Christ Hospital for 39 years. He served as chair for the Fine Arts Fund Campaign and the Hamilton County Republican Party. He served as a chairman of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and Cincinnati Business Committee.
Head has been married to his wife, Louise Atkins, for 60 years. They have three children – Lisa, Jeb and Andy.